When I first started racing, my arms were always the first to go.
Arm strength is important in running. Swinging your arms helps to drive your legs and propel yourself forward. When you need to dig a little deeper, push a little harder and run a little faster you pump your arms more vigorously and the rest of your body will follow.
When I raced, before my legs felt fatigued, before I was winded, I would struggle to keep my arms up and swinging. My shoulders would tire out and I would find my arms dropping down to my sides. After I spent so much time and energy making my legs strong and my lungs robust it was my neglected arms that dragged me down like an anchor!
I took one really simple step to solve my mid-race arm atrophy affliction: pushups. Not a lot of push ups, I only needed to make my arms strong enough so they could hold up their own weight for the duration of a 5 or 10k race.
So before I left for my next workout, I dropped and gave myself 30. At least, I attempted 30 push ups. I gave a good effort until about 20 and then I sort of wiggled around for “10” more. So, before my next run I lowered my bar and only did 20 push ups, but I concentrated on making sure they were high quality push ups. You will get more out of doing fewer push ups correctly than to do many push ups with poor form.
Doing push ups before your run will do two things for you. 1) push ups make your arms stronger. 2) Doing push ups before you run will make your arms a little tired before you even start running which gives you the perfect opportunity to practice running with tired arms. So you are both getting stronger and getting better at running when weak. That’s a double whammy workout!
After a couple weeks doing a few quick push ups before each of my runs I began to see results in my race times. My arms were no longer getting tired at all during my races! I was able to run strong much longer and that made me more confident. I was on an upward spiral!
Every few weeks, as I grew accustomed to doing push ups before each run, I would add a few more push ups to my routine. I still do push ups every day. I topped out at 50 push ups. That’s all I need to keep my arms strong enough to push me through any race I might find myself running and it only takes me 1 minute to do them.
Start your run off right. Do a few pushups and you’ll be strong enough to hold your arms up high when you cross the finish line!